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  • Fischli and Weiss as DIY


    Jörg Markowitsch

    A young Youtuber has presumably unwittingly made a remake of Fischli and Weiss' famous art video "The Way Things Go" (1987), raising interesting questions about the relationship between art, professional craft and DIY.

    I have been a fan of Fischli and Weiss since I first saw works by the Swiss artist duo in the late 1980s. I was immedia­te­ly struck by the playful phi­lo­so­phi­cal wit of their work. It’s not the kind of art you need to study for a long time. If not at first glance, it reveals itself or not, in the second glance.

    For example, their instal­la­ti­on “The Table” (1992/93), con­tai­ning seemingly randomly arranged everyday objects on a large table, such as buckets, cleaning agents, brushes, full ashtrays, paint cans, and so on. At first glance I first thought it was a bad joke, upon seeing “The Table” in the old Kunst­hal­le Wien (the “Krischa­nitz container”). How could one continue to exhibit ready-mades four genera­ti­ons after Marcel Duchamp by simply dumping the rubbish of one’s own studio on a table? After a tip-off from my more art-savvy companion and a second glance, it became clear: these aren’t “real” objects at all, but meti­cu­lous­ly hand-recon­struc­ted and painted objects made of poly­ure­tha­ne. How ingenious is that! What better way to question indus­tri­al pro­duc­tion methods and consumer society than with such out­stan­ding craft­s­manship, attention to detail and artistic sensibility.

    Their film “The Way Things Go”, premiered at the Documenta 8 in Kassel, is just as shrewd. It was the first art film that I found as phi­lo­so­phi­cal as exciting, and enter­tai­ning. Even though it remains to be dis­co­ve­r­ed whether it appeals primarily to the phi­lo­so­pher, the tinkerer or the child in me.

    The short film shows a literal domino effect, with the indi­vi­du­al tiles composed of a string of impro­vi­sed-looking devices made of boards, ladders, car tyres, plastic bottles, fireworks, balloons and the like. The camera then follows the chain reaction in which different physical and chemical princi­ples are used to move the next tile: it falls, rolls, bursts, swings, foams, burns, and smokes. Things take their course and one can’t help to ponder while watching, “Is it going to work?” and reflect on this, “Can life be summed up that way?”

    Last year, the young Youtuber Creezy posted a simpler but equally enter­tai­ning video that immedia­te­ly made me think of Fischli and Weiss. From various objects that might have accu­mu­la­ted in any household with a garden, he built a variant of a Rube Goldberg machine, filmed in motion in one take — just like Fischli and Weiss. Compared to the con­tem­pla­ti­ve original, however, indi­ca­tors of today become obvious: the video is shorter, more dynamic, limited in physical options, and just for  clicks (over 4 million). There was no time for reflec­tion and it did not initiate any either. And yet: it is a cul­mi­na­ti­on of a DIY culture and an inte­res­ting anti­the­sis to con­tem­pora­ry art.

    Both works required out­stan­ding crea­ti­vi­ty, meti­cu­lous craft­s­manship as well as pro­fes­sio­na­lism. At the same time, in their denial of any practical use, indeed com­pli­ca­ting the task, they became a pro­vo­ca­ti­on to the demands that both modern tech­no­lo­gy and tra­di­tio­nal craft­s­manship place on their instru­men­ta­li­ty. As Heidegger would say both cases deal with “techne”, that is, with craft­s­manship and skill as well as with high art and the fine arts: “The techne belongs to bringing-forth, to poiesis. It is something poietic.” (Heidegger, 1962, p. 11).  It goes on to say: “The word techne goes […] together with the word episteme. Both words are names for cognition in the broadest sense. They mean the knowing of something, the under­stan­ding of something.” (ibid.) In the case of Creezy, is it now also art or simply a gimmick?

     

    Refe­ren­zen:
    Heidegger, Martin (1991). Die Technik und die Kehre: Günther Neske Pfullingen.
    Goldmann, R. (2006). Peter Fischli David Weiss. Ausflüge, Arbeiten, Aus­stel­lun­gen. Ein offener Index. Köln: Verlag der Buch­hand­lung Walther König.

    Trailer, 'The Way Things Go',1987, Filmstill“, Fischli and Weiss, 1987, 3min 

    The Swish Machine, Creezy, 2020, 3min 

    The Table, 1992/93, Fischli and Weiss, Table with around 750 Objects made of Polyurethane

    Fischli and Weiss’s “Untitled” (1994-2013)

    Objects which Cree Ossner (“Creezy“) used for his "Swish Machine",

    The Way Things Go,1987, Filmstill

    The Way Things Go,1987, Filmstill

    Tags

    Fischli and Weiss as DIY

    Jörg Markowitsch

    A young Youtuber has presumably unwittingly made a remake of Fischli and Weiss' famous art video "The Way Things Go" (1987), raising interesting questions about the relationship between art, professional craft and DIY.

    I have been a fan of Fischli and Weiss since I first saw works by the Swiss artist duo in the late 1980s. I was immedia­te­ly struck by the playful phi­lo­so­phi­cal wit of their work. It’s not the kind of art you need to study for a long time. If not at first glance, it reveals itself or not, in the second glance.

    For example, their instal­la­ti­on “The Table” (1992/93), con­tai­ning seemingly randomly arranged everyday objects on a large table, such as buckets, cleaning agents, brushes, full ashtrays, paint cans, and so on. At first glance I first thought it was a bad joke, upon seeing “The Table” in the old Kunst­hal­le Wien (the “Krischa­nitz container”). How could one continue to exhibit ready-mades four genera­ti­ons after Marcel Duchamp by simply dumping the rubbish of one’s own studio on a table? After a tip-off from my more art-savvy companion and a second glance, it became clear: these aren’t “real” objects at all, but meti­cu­lous­ly hand-recon­struc­ted and painted objects made of poly­ure­tha­ne. How ingenious is that! What better way to question indus­tri­al pro­duc­tion methods and consumer society than with such out­stan­ding craft­s­manship, attention to detail and artistic sensibility.

    Their film “The Way Things Go”, premiered at the Documenta 8 in Kassel, is just as shrewd. It was the first art film that I found as phi­lo­so­phi­cal as exciting, and enter­tai­ning. Even though it remains to be dis­co­ve­r­ed whether it appeals primarily to the phi­lo­so­pher, the tinkerer or the child in me.

    The short film shows a literal domino effect, with the indi­vi­du­al tiles composed of a string of impro­vi­sed-looking devices made of boards, ladders, car tyres, plastic bottles, fireworks, balloons and the like. The camera then follows the chain reaction in which different physical and chemical princi­ples are used to move the next tile: it falls, rolls, bursts, swings, foams, burns, and smokes. Things take their course and one can’t help to ponder while watching, “Is it going to work?” and reflect on this, “Can life be summed up that way?”

    Last year, the young Youtuber Creezy posted a simpler but equally enter­tai­ning video that immedia­te­ly made me think of Fischli and Weiss. From various objects that might have accu­mu­la­ted in any household with a garden, he built a variant of a Rube Goldberg machine, filmed in motion in one take — just like Fischli and Weiss. Compared to the con­tem­pla­ti­ve original, however, indi­ca­tors of today become obvious: the video is shorter, more dynamic, limited in physical options, and just for  clicks (over 4 million). There was no time for reflec­tion and it did not initiate any either. And yet: it is a cul­mi­na­ti­on of a DIY culture and an inte­res­ting anti­the­sis to con­tem­pora­ry art.

    Both works required out­stan­ding crea­ti­vi­ty, meti­cu­lous craft­s­manship as well as pro­fes­sio­na­lism. At the same time, in their denial of any practical use, indeed com­pli­ca­ting the task, they became a pro­vo­ca­ti­on to the demands that both modern tech­no­lo­gy and tra­di­tio­nal craft­s­manship place on their instru­men­ta­li­ty. As Heidegger would say both cases deal with “techne”, that is, with craft­s­manship and skill as well as with high art and the fine arts: “The techne belongs to bringing-forth, to poiesis. It is something poietic.” (Heidegger, 1962, p. 11).  It goes on to say: “The word techne goes […] together with the word episteme. Both words are names for cognition in the broadest sense. They mean the knowing of something, the under­stan­ding of something.” (ibid.) In the case of Creezy, is it now also art or simply a gimmick?

     

    Refe­ren­zen:
    Heidegger, Martin (1991). Die Technik und die Kehre: Günther Neske Pfullingen.
    Goldmann, R. (2006). Peter Fischli David Weiss. Ausflüge, Arbeiten, Aus­stel­lun­gen. Ein offener Index. Köln: Verlag der Buch­hand­lung Walther König.

    Trailer, 'The Way Things Go',1987, Filmstill“, Fischli and Weiss, 1987, 3min

    The Swish Machine, Creezy, 2020, 3min

    The Table, 1992/93, Fischli and Weiss, Table with around 750 Objects made of Polyurethane

    Fischli and Weiss’s “Untitled” (1994-2013)

    Objects which Cree Ossner (“Creezy“) used for his "Swish Machine",

    The Way Things Go,1987, Filmstill

    The Way Things Go,1987, Filmstill

    Tags


    Fitness to work?

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    About this blog

    By selecting a film or an image, this blog literally illus­tra­tes the vast sphere of work, employ­ment & education in an open collec­tion of academic, artistic and also anecdotal findings.

    About us

    Konrad Wakol­bin­ger makes docu­men­ta­ry films about work and life. Jörg Mar­ko­witsch does research on education and work. They are both based in Vienna. Infor­ma­ti­on on guest authors can be found in their cor­re­spon­ding articles.

    More about

    Inte­res­ted in more? Find recom­men­da­ti­ons on relevant festivals, film collec­tions and lite­ra­tu­re here.

    About this blog

    With picking a film or an image, this blog literally illus­tra­tes the vast sphere of work, employ­ment & education in an open collec­tion of academic, artistic and also anecdotal findings.

    About us

    Konrad Wakol­bin­ger makes docu­men­ta­ry films about work and life. Jörg Mar­ko­witsch does research on education and work. We both work in Vienna. Infor­ma­ti­on on guest authors can be found in their respec­ti­ve articles.

    More about

    Inte­res­ted in more? Find recom­men­da­ti­ons on relevant festivals, film collec­tions and lite­ra­tu­re here.